featuring guest authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.

Monday, February 20, 2017

THE FAVORITES, FAILURES & FRUSTRATIONS OF #POTTERY WITH GUEST AUTHOR GILIAN BAKER

Gilian Baker is a former writing and literature professor who finally threw in the towel and decided to just show ‘em how it’s done. She has gone on to forge a life outside of academia by adding blogger and ghostwriter to her CV. She currently uses her geeky superpowers only for good to entertain cozy mystery readers the world over. See what she’s up to on her website. 

“Sometimes I think throwing pottery is just as frustrating as running an online business,” admits my protagonist, Jade Blackwell. And she’s not wrong. She and I are both online entrepreneurs, so we know firsthand of the frustrations of which we speak. Though I haven’t thrown pottery for many years, it was once my creative passion. And, since there are so many ways for it to all go wrong, it makes perfect fodder for Favorites, Failures and Frustrations.

I loved playing in the mud as a kid. I loved getting my hands dirty while growing organic vegetable as an adult. So why not, I thought, try a pottery class? It started out as just a weekly class, but soon grew into an obsession. For the next seven years, I spent every free moment in a dusty pottery studio and loved it. I still use many of the items I created back then, as do the friends and family with whom I shared them. Even though I’m now too busy writing cozy mysteries to throw pots, I still enjoy the ones I literally created with my bare hands years ago.

That was the “favorites” part. Now, on to the failures. There were many. I would study pictures in pottery magazines thinking, “Heck, I can make that.” This was around the time I learned that nothing ever turns out like the picture. The times when a friend or family member requested a certain item made was when I experienced the biggest failures. I’d want it to be so perfect. The harder I tried, the worse it got. I better understand that concept now—the more “work” you make of something, the harder it’s going to be. When I let myself enjoy the simple pleasure of creating, I ended up with something lovely. When I didn’t, well, I didn’t. During my time as a potter, I learned the best way to do anything was to let go of how the final product turned out and just enjoy the process.

Frustrations can easily overshadow the pleasure found in the pottery studio. One reason for this is the many steps required to finish a single piece.

The clay must be thrown, dried, trimmed, glazed and fired, and at any point in the process, it can be wrecked. Sounds fun, doesn’t it? But oh, when you create something beautiful, you forget all about the frustrations and can’t wait to do it all over again. Throwing pottery is a great metaphor for life. If you are as malleable as the clay, you can learn patience and mindfulness. If you don’t…you probably won’t stick with it for long.

Though I started this post with a quote from Jade Blackwell, it’s from the second book in the series, scheduled to be released in May. So technically, Jade isn’t a potter yet, but it fit so perfectly with the topic, I decided to use it anyway.  In the first book, Blogging is Murder, Jade doesn’t have time for anything other than blogging and investigating the murder her friend is suspected of. But during that first case, she remembers there’s more to life than work and is determined to have more fun. In Book Two, she takes up pottery…until another crime needs to be solved.

Blogging is Murder
A Jade Blackwell Mystery

Though she was certainly born with all the traits of a world-class private detective, blogger Jade Blackwell believed she would do nothing more than solve the murders in her latest favorite cozy mystery book.

Set in mountainous southeastern Wyoming, Jade Blackwell lives in a log home in the quaint village of Aspen Falls with her husband Christian and daughter Penelope (Ellie). She left her life as a tenured college English professor at the University of Wyoming four years ago, sick of the bureaucracy, mounds of essays to grade and apathetic students. She turns to blogging and ghostwriting as her new career.

Jade’s promising career as a blogger halts abruptly when she learns of a hacker who is controlling her friend and fellow blogger Liz Collin’s business remotely. When the hacker is found dead in her home, Liz is thrown in jail.

Determined to help her friend regain her life and livelihood, Jade teams up with Liz’s reluctant lawyer, Gabriel Langdon, to get Liz off the hook and out of jail. What she learns will break the case wide open, while unraveling her faith in humanity and the safety she feels living in the Rocky Mountain hamlet she calls home.

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